Read what we thought of Atlus' newest DS RPG.
This Thursday, we had the opportunity to attend a streaming web demonstration of the upcoming Atlus DS release, Radiant Historia. The demonstration walked us through the opening moments of the game, and introduced Historia's combat and time-travelling mechanics.
Similar to the rest of its Japanese RPG brethren, Radiant Historia opens with lots of dialogue. While the localization and storytelling appears to be top-notch (and full of spoilers), Atlus decided that they would showcase the game's dialogue-skipping features. Players can skip through story segments line-by-line, or even skip entire scenes if they so choose. While the ability to skip through a game's text may seem trivial, Radiant Historia is a game that encourages one to replay key scenes to alter history, so passing by familiar discussions is of particular use.
Without saying too much about Historia's plot, the game tells the tale of two warring kingdoms fighting for the last remaining bits of land on the planet. Players take on the role of Stocke, an apparently battle-hardened protagonist that inherits the ability to propel himself through time and space by interacting with the magical "White Chronicle."
Travelling through time consists of much more than a simple rewind mechanic. The player is presented with a grid of alternate story paths and nodes, and playing through each of them further propels the player towards the "true history" of the world. While not much time travelling was done during the demo, it became apparent that it would be necessary to revisit previous chapters after gaining new knowledge or abilities.
Radiant Historia’s combat system stands out from conventional JRPGs. At any time, players can change the turn order of a battle, but at the expense of incurring extra vulnerability until the next turn. This system is combined with the game’s unique grid-based battlefield. While we usually see grids in tactical RPGs in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics, Radiant Historia places the enemies atop a grid in a more conventional turn-based arena.
The purpose of the 3-by-3 grid in Radiant Historia is to manipulate enemy placement to the player's advantage. Special moves allow one to bash enemies from one gridline to the next, and in this way enemies can be stacked. Once stacked, all enemies occupying the square will receive damage from the same attack. One cannot simply throw all of the enemies to the back, however, because enemies towards the rear of the battlefield take less damage.
Player characters will receive extra experience in battle for taking advantage of the grid and turn change systems, and even though the demo only showcased three party members, Atlus has confirmed that party members not partaking in battle will also gain some experience at the end of each battle.
Outside of combat, enemies meander about the world. Players can attack the enemies before intersecting with them to gain an advantage in battle - a system similar to the recent Persona games. This comes as little surprise, because members of the Persona team developed Radiant Historia in collaboration with Tri Ace.
Radiant Historia looks to be a fitting last-hurrah for RPGs on the Nintendo DS when it comes out on February 22.